Gordon MP Richard Thomson has challenged the UK Government on breaking its promise not to increase the rate of National Insurance contributions.
The 2019 election manifesto of the Conservative Party contained an express commitment from the Prime Minister that income tax, VAT and National Insurance would not increase.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Richard Thomson MP said:
“We are currently experiencing the gravest cost of living crisis in memory, caused by inflation from a number of fronts: the shortage of labour caused by Brexit and the ending of free movement; the increased trade frictions as a direct consequence of Brexit; covid-19 and all that has befallen us over the last two years; and, most recently, the rapidly increasing costs of energy. Amidst all this it is absolutely extraordinary that any sentient, competent Government would seek to pile on the agony by increasing National Insurance contributions for employers, employees and the self-employed.
“This represents a shattering of the Conservatives’ manifesto promises. On page 2 of the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto, we had an introduction from the Prime Minister himself, entitled “My Guarantee”, which said: ‘We will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or national insurance’. That was signed off with the Prime Minister’s signature, and it was a statement quite literally not worth the paper it was written on.
“Let us not be in any doubt about the enormity of the crisis facing us. The number of UK households classed as destitute could rise by nearly a third to more than 1 million this spring after the Government bring in their national insurance increase. Ofgem recently announced that millions of householders will see their energy bills rise by £693 as a result of the increase in the energy cap from April. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns that the energy price cap rise will have a harsher impact on the poorest families, who will spend on average 18% of their income after housing costs on energy bills after April. Energy UK recently warned that household energy bills could rise by another £1,000 by October as wholesale gas prices continue to soar, with households facing the prospect of bills between £2,500 and £3,000 this year. Consumer prices, as measured by the consumer prices index, were 5.5% higher in December 2021 than a year before, the highest inflation rate recorded since 1992. And of course we must not forget that the Bank of England increased interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5% and forecasts that real household disposable incomes are set to fall by 2%.
“I support Scottish independence and want full tax powers for Scotland, and I have no doubt in my mind that an independent Scottish Government would not be using the equivalent of National Insurance in such a way for this purpose. Until that changes, we are stuck with and reliant on the Conservatives—out of all character—prioritising the interests of those on lower and middle incomes over the most wealthy.”